Letter to the editor - School Leaving Exercise scheduled for 17th June, 2016

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a parent of two students in the Sixth Grade or Group 8, I wish to bring to the attention of the public, the Ministry of Education and the relevant stake holders the gross incivility meted out to our children, students attending the Public Schools.
On Thursday 19th May, 2016, a meeting was held at the Senior Citizens’ Hall in Hope Estate across from the Marie Genevieve De Weever Primary School. The meeting was hosted by the Director of Public Education and the School Managers to brief parents about the school leaving exercise for the Group 8/grade 6 students.
I was only notified of this meeting the evening before by my children when I got home from work. I was in my children’s interest that I attended the meeting although the short notice.
I expected to hear complimentary things about the school leaving exercise but was most disappointed.
WHY? For the past two years, the Education Ministry decided to dictate the format of the exercise of which parents agreed. This was that a fee of one hundred dollars -$100 will be paid by each student. This money will provide the child with clothing and to secure a venue including a light snack. However, this year, a grey gown was the choice of clothing. The students will wear their school uniform to attend the ceremony with the gown.
This is not acceptable because the uniforms are worn and the children deserve to be better dressed. For me, it is either my children are provided with proper clothing or a refund of sixty dollars-$60.
The math in this scenario shows that forty dollars -$40 per child will yield over nine thousand five hundred dollars-$9,500.
Now at the meeting, the manner in which the Director addressed the parents was distasteful to put it mildly. These are our children and we have a right to be involved in decisions concerning our children. The Director is a dictator. She cannot tell parents that her decision is final and that parents do not have any other choice. Her remarks were supported by the Lionel Connor   School Manager.
Parents felt unappreciated and disrespected, and tried to voice their concerns. The Director and the school manager from Lionel Connor were not accommodating.  The other managers especially Martin Luther King and Orange school laughed at us.
Notably, many students were present at this meeting and heard the rough and impoliteness manner in which the Director and principle spoke and witnessed their uncultured behavior.
I am wondering what kind of people are these School Managers and this Director. They deal with our children daily and have our children’s future in their hands.
The irony of this situation is that, most teachers and those at the Education ministry do not have their children attending Public School. Their children attend the Semi private schools, the Catholic, Adventist, Hill Side, the MAC and Private schools, Learning Unlimited and CIA.
Further, the Director and the Orange School Principle have their children abroad; the principles of the Martin Luther King and Lionel Connor Schools have none.   Do these persons really care how parents feel, more so the children-students entrusted to their care.
They have put forward the point that, they want parents to save money. That is not their business. They are totally out of place to think that. Can parents tell them what to do with their money and on whom they should spend it on?
 Parents make sacrifices for their children. Therefore, I am calling on the Minister of Education and those in the higher authoritative position to urgently rectify this situation. The Director and principles need to publicly apologize to the parents and our children.

Yours Aggrieved but Concerned Parent
E. Callender

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